Go Freelance, Be Happy

As a part of their National Freelancers Day festivities, the Professional Freelancers Group commissioned some research on the freelance economy and lifestyle.  The whole report makes fascinating reading and highlights how much this sector has grown recently.  Interesting nuggets include:

  • there are now 1.4 million freelancers in the UK accounting for a combined annual turnover of £82 billion.
  • three quarters of freelancers view it as a long-term career choice.
  • 60% of businesses would find it difficult to operate without freelancers.
  • “Three quarters of freelancers agree that ‘in ten year’s time, work will be less office-based and more people will work remotely’ and there is agreement that there will be a growing trend towards freelancing over the next ten years.” (admittedly, this point may be putting words in the mouths of a not entirely unbiased sample).

However, what particularly caught my eye was the finding that freelancers are happier:

“Overall, freelancers are happier about most aspects of their lives, than members of the general public. In particular, the majority of freelancers are happy with their level of confidence and happy with the control over their lives that they have.”

Unsurprising though this is (I’ve never been happier :-)), the report reminds me of Wired magazine’s recent article on stress, and especially its reference to Michael Marmot’s Whitehall Study which found, broadly, that stress levels correlate with lack on control over a situation.  No matter how high-pressure your role is, the more control you have over your situation, the less stress you exhibit.  The lowly typist (do typists still exist?) in a highly controlled environment can exhibit much higher stress levels than the 100 hour a week chief executive who is responsible for the success or failure of the whole organisation. 

Thus, freelancers, despite the inevitable stresses of an uncertain income flow, are happier because they are in control (for better or worse) of their own lives.

Oh, and David Cameron is also a fan.

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